Monday, 19 March 2012

BBC - France shooting: Toulouse Jewish school attack kills four

France shooting: Toulouse Jewish school attack kills four

President Nicolas Sarkozy: "They are not just your children. They are ours as well"

A gunman has shot dead a teacher and three children at a Jewish school in the French city of Toulouse.

He opened fire on the Ozar Hatorah school in the north-east of the city, also seriously injuring a teenage boy.

The attacker fled on a scooter, in similar style to the killer of three soldiers in two separate incidents in the same part of France last week.

Officials admit there are similarities between the incidents but say there is no hard evidence yet linking them.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, who flew into Toulouse, described the attack as a "national tragedy". He has called for all schools in France to observe a minute's silence on Tuesday and vowed to hunt down killer.


The grand rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim said he was "horrified" and "stunned" by what had happened, and Israel called on the French authorities "to shed full light on this tragedy and bring the perpetrators to justice".

Monday's attack happened at around 08:00 local time (07:00 GMT), as children and their parents were arriving at the school, in the Joliment area of the city.

Witnesses said the gunman pulled up on a black scooter and began shooting at an area which serves as the drop-off point for the school's nursery- and primary-age children.

One eyewitness said a man came to the school and started shooting - "it was unbearable"

"This man alighted from his moped and, as he was outside the school, he shot at everybody who was near him, children or adults. Children were chased right into the school," local prosecutor Michel Valet told journalists.

The gunman is reported to have initially used a 9mm weapon, but when it jammed he switched to a .45 calibre weapon.

A teacher at the school, believed to be aged 30, and his two children, aged three and six, are reported to have been killed.

The third child killed was aged between eight and 10 years old and belonged to another teacher at the school, French media report.

A 17-year-old was seriously injured.

Police have launched a massive hunt in Toulouse to find the killer - wailing sirens and the sounds of helicopters overhead could be heard throughout the morning.

Some 60 police officers, including anti-terrorist specialists, had already been drafted in to the Toulouse area earlier in the week to help investigate the attacks on the soldiers.

A paratrooper out of uniform was shot dead in a residential area of Toulouse just over a week ago, while two soldiers were killed and a third wounded as they used a cashpoint in the town of Montauban, some 29 miles (46km) away, on Thursday.

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Attacks in south-west France

  • 11 March: Off-duty airborne sergeant shot dead in Toulouse while waiting to see man about selling his motorbike
  • 15 March: Two paratroopers shot dead and a third seriously injured while waiting at a cashpoint in Montauban
  • 19 March: Three children and a teacher shot dead, and a youth injured, at a Jewish school in Toulouse

All three - of North African and Caribbean origin - were shot by a man on a scooter. A .45 calibre weapon was also used in the Montauban shootings.

Mr Sarkozy echoed the comments of other French officials when he said he was "struck by the similarities" of the recent attacks, but he warned against jumping to conclusions.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon has asked for all schools and religious buildings across the country to be secured in the wake of Monday's shooting, the Associated Press reports.

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